Thursday, August 30, 2007

Don't Trust Experts Forecasts, Studys Says

Article from Science Daily
A study about predicting the outcome of actual conflicts found that the forecasts of experts who use their unaided judgment are little better than those of novices, according to a new study in a publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

When presented with actual crises, such as a disguised version of a 1970s border dispute between Iraq and Syria and an unfolding dispute between football players and management, experts were able to forecast the decisions the parties made in only 32% of the cases, little better than the 29% scored by undergraduate students. Chance guesses at the outcomes would be right 28% of the time. The research can have serious consequences for foreign policy and business. Green says, “Political leaders in the West are pondering how best to deal with the threat of the Iranian government’s nuclear ambitions. Forecasting problems such as this are the stuff of not only international relations but also of takeover battles, commercial competition, and labor-management disputes. In most cases, experts use their judgment to predict what will happen."

How good are their forecasts?The short answer is that they are of little value in terms of accuracy. In addition, they lead people into false confidence.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Amateur Radio: Upcoming Meteor Shower Can Be Boon for VHFers

VHFers, particularly those interested in meteor scatter, should be on the alert Saturday morning, September 1, for what could be a rare opportunity of excellent propagation. At 1137 UTC (4:37 PDT), the Earth's orbit will cross through the dust trail of long-period comet C/1911 N1 (Kiess), which is expected to provide a short but active two hour outburst of bright (-2 to +3 magnitude) meteors radiating from the constellation Auriga. Predicted rates for this particular Aurigids vary from around 100 meteors per hour to up to 1000. If high rates are achieved, the meteors could provide "open-band" conditions during the peak times. It might certainly be worth a look on 2 meters (or higher) during the hour leading up to the peak and through the peak time period. The meteor radiant is ideally placed for North Americans, so the more stations that are active, the more people can take advantage of what might possibly happen in the sky on Saturday morning. If conditions turn out to be excellent, the best mode for information exchange will be on SSB, keeping calls and transmissions very short and exchanging minimal information, such as signal reports or grids. As usual, the best frequency on 2 meters will likely be 144.200 MHz, with stations spreading out from there if conditions warrant.

More information on this rare event can be found here (photo above borrowed from this link).
Reprinted information provided by Steve McDonald, VE7SL

Monday, August 27, 2007

Technology History: The World's First MP3 Player

The world's first MP3 player wasn't introduced to the public by Apple (nope, not the iPod). It wasn't offered by Creative Labs (not the Zen either). The first MP3 player wasn't even a Diamond Corporation product (can anyone say Rio?). The world premiere of the MP3 was from a now defunct company named Eiger Labs.
Eiger Labs brought the world's first MP3 player to the masses during the summer of 1998 -- for a mere $165. The 32Mb portable held up to 32 minutes of near CD-quality audio or approximately 64 minutes of FM stereo-quality audio.
The player, dubbed the MPMan F10, was very basic and not user expandable, though owners could upgrade the memory to 64Mb by sending the player back to Eiger Labs. One article described the Eiger MPMan player as: "It’s probably easiest to describe it as the next generation of Sony Walkman. It’s probably just as Revolutionary as the very first Walkman if not more, because it represents the beginning of a new era in Digital Audio." [random capitalization copyright the original author]

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

MCPMag POLL: Upgrade to Microsoft Vista or wait for "Windows 7"?

The Question: Will you upgrade to Microsoft Vista or wait for "Windows 7"?

I'll stick with XP as long as I can. (50.5%)
I've already upgraded to Vista. (21.3%)
I'll eventually upgrade to Vista. (16.0%)
Skipping Vista and going straight to Windows 7. (6.9%)
I've already moved on to a non-MS OS. (4.8%)
Not even considering Windows 7. (0.5%)

The total number of votes was just shy of 200, but the outcome was a little surprising. According to Microsoft PR (propaganda reports), Vista is selling like hotcakes. The telling part of this poll is that the majority of MCP Mag readers are Microsoft Certified Professionals. Hmm, even those certified in MS technologies and software are not clamoring for Vista. The majority are holding on to Microsoft Windows XP Professional"as long as they can". This makes me wonder about the truth in Microsoft claims of more than one million copies of Vista being sold.

As an MCP (and CompTIA A+) certified tech myself, I tend to agree with the majority of poll respondents. I am holding out for Vista's Service Pack 1 release before considering an upgrade. Along with SP1, the price will need to drop a bit before Vista will become part of my budget. BTW, the only choice worth making (IMO) regarding Windows Vista is Premium Edition. All the others are lesser versions.